Catholic Theological Union

Catholic Theological Union (CTU) is working to more intentionally integrate science into its core curriculum to further its mission “to prepare effective leaders for the Church, ready to witness to Christ’s good news of justice, love, and peace.” During the 2019-2020 academic year, CTU is offering nine courses and two campus events exploring the theme “Science and Saving Stories That Shape Us: Engaging Science and Religion in Our Curriculum and Culture.” Dawn M. Nothwehr, OSF, the Erica & Harry John Family Professor of Catholic Theological Ethics, and Anne McGowan, Assistant Professor of Liturgy, are leading this CTU initiative. The first phase of the project focuses on resourcing CTU faculty to engage students with issues and concepts pertaining to science and theology in the classroom and beyond. This subject was explored most intensively during a 2.5-day workshop for all CTU faculty members in October 2019 featuring presentations by local scientists, theologians, and pedagogical leaders. Invited experts modeled the science-theology dialogue through lectures, discussion exercises, small-group syllabus preparation consultation sessions, and field trip excursions.

The project’s second phase will look outward toward engaging a wider community in sustained reflection about how to speak faithfully about science and scientifically about faith. Doing this will help bridge the gap between communities and cultures who operate primarily from one or the other of these “languages” and worldviews. On March 20, 2020, CTU will host a daylong public event envisioned as the culmination of prior conversations and an invitation to ongoing dialogue. Highlights include:

  • Keynote lectures by
    • Guy Consolmagno, SJ, Director of the Vatican Observatory in Rome on the topic “Theology at the Cutting Edge: God and Science in the 21st Century”
    • Todd A. Salzman, Ph.D., Amelia and Emil Graff Professor of Catholic Theology at Creighton University, who will speak about “Theological Virtue Ethics and Neuroscience”
  • Breakout sessions presented by and for students and teachers from Chicago-area Catholic high schools that will address various dimensions of the science-and-theology dialogue
  • Sessions by educators from several of Chicago’s science-oriented museums
  • Presentations on the implications of scientific topics for mission and ministry in the “real world,” where science and religion frequently overlap
  • Prizes for CTU students who shared the most outstanding work in each of the following contest categories: academic journal article, homily, reflection paper, and STEM for Mission project

Contact information

Resources:

Introduction to Moral Theology

This course, taught by Dawn M. Nothwehr at Catholic Theological Union, will examine the foundations of the Christian moral life. It begins with a brief historical overview of the Vatican II shift in moral theology which provides a contextual basis for understanding contemporary Catholic moral theology and ethical methods. This will be followed by an…
  • Course Categories: Ethics
  • Science Topics: Neuroscience, Brain, & Mind
  • Seminaries: Catholic Theological Union
  • Ecclesial Families: Catholic/Orthodox
  • Syllabus: Introduction to Moral Theology
  • Tags: neuroscience, ethics, morality, consciousness, cognition, brain development, intelligence

Introduction to the Christian Spiritual Life

This course, taught by C. Vanessa White at Catholic Theological Union, is an introduction to Christian spirituality and the practices and values that comprise it. The course offers a survey of the components that are included in the five aspects of the spiritual journey: context, participants, content, process and aspiration. These will be considered in…
  • Course Categories: Pastoral Theology
  • Science Topics: Neuroscience, Brain, & Mind
  • Seminaries: Catholic Theological Union
  • Ecclesial Families: Catholic/Orthodox
  • Syllabus: Introduction to the Christian Spiritual Life
  • Tags: spirituality, consciousness

Liturgy: Principles and Practices

This course, taught by Anne McGowan at Catholic Theological Union, introduces ritual, ecclesial, theological, and practical foundations of liturgy and liturgical celebrations in preparation for ministry in diverse pastoral and cultural contexts.
  • Course Categories: Pastoral Theology
  • Science Topics: Earth Science & Environment, Neuroscience, Brain, & Mind
  • Seminaries: Catholic Theological Union
  • Ecclesial Families: Catholic/Orthodox
  • Syllabus: Liturgy: Principles and Practices
  • Tags: neuroscience, psychology, science and religion, ecology, church worship, music

Neuroscience, Evolution, and Theology

This course, taught by Scott C. Alexander at Catholic Theological Union, introduces students to the story of what has always been and what will continue to be the critically important relationship between science and theology. It will proceed by constructing a narrative arc comprised of the following six elements: 1) an examination of the history…
  • Course Categories: General Theology
  • Science Topics: Neuroscience, Brain, & Mind
  • Seminaries: Catholic Theological Union
  • Ecclesial Families: Catholic/Orthodox
  • Syllabus: Neuroscience, Evolution, and Theology
  • Tags: neuroscience, behavioral sciences, free will, personhood, social justice, criminal justice

Spiritual Companioning for Ministry

This course is taught by Christina R. Zaker at Catholic Theological Union. Both in daily life and in explicit ministry, Christians are frequently called upon to offer a companioning presence to people who are struggling with spiritual issues. Students in this course develop an understanding of this "everyday" ministry and practice the skills that will…
  • Course Categories: Pastoral Theology
  • Science Topics: Neuroscience, Brain, & Mind
  • Seminaries: Catholic Theological Union
  • Ecclesial Families: Catholic/Orthodox
  • Syllabus: Spiritual Companioning for Ministry
  • Tags: neuroscience, DNA, trauma, brain development, depression, mental health, stress

Survey of Systematic Theology

This course, taught by Robin Ryan at Catholic Theological Union, consists of an overview of the major topics that are treated in systematic theology. Students explore fundamental dimensions of the Judeo-Christian tradition, including: faith and revelation, the mystery of the Triune God, Jesus Christ, creation, Church, ministry, sin and grace, Mary and the saints, and…
  • Course Categories: General Theology
  • Science Topics: History & Philosophy of Science
  • Seminaries: Catholic Theological Union
  • Ecclesial Families: Catholic/Orthodox
  • Syllabus: Survey of Systematic Theology
  • Tags: theology and science, faith and science

Theological Anthropology

This course, taught by Daniel P. Horan at Catholic Theological Union, offers an historical and contextual approach to the key themes of theological anthropology including creation, nature, grace, sin, and eschatology, among others. Special attention is given throughout the course to the relationships between theology and science, traditions and cultures, as well as contemporary questions,…
  • Course Categories: General Theology
  • Science Topics: Life Sciences
  • Seminaries: Catholic Theological Union
  • Ecclesial Families: Catholic/Orthodox
  • Syllabus: Theological Anthropology
  • Tags: neuroscience, Anthropology, Biological Evolution, personhood

Trinity & Mission: The God of Jesus Christ

This course, taught by Antonio Sison at Catholic Theological Union, is an invitation for students to deepen in their understanding of God the Trinity whom Christians witness through their lives. It offers a critical and constructive reflection on the divine Trinitarian communion—a plenitude of self-giving love—in the light of salvation, liberation, and mission. D4100 is…
  • Course Categories: General Theology
  • Science Topics: Physics and Cosmos
  • Seminaries: Catholic Theological Union
  • Ecclesial Families: Catholic/Orthodox
  • Syllabus: Trinity & Mission: The God of Jesus Christ
  • Tags: cosmology, astronomy, Space exploration, theology and cosmology

World Christianity in Intercultural and Interreligious Perspectives

In this course, taught by Joanne Doi at Catholic Theological Union, students will be introduced to Christianity as the truly global phenomenon it has always been. Students will explore how historical and cultural context shapes religious experience, in general, and how it shapes ways of being Christian, in particular. Special attention will be given to…
Learn about the other Participant Schools

In furtherance of the AAAS mission of advancing science in service to society, AAAS|DoSER’s role in the Science for Seminaries project is to support efforts to integrate science into seminary education. AAAS|DoSER does not advise on or endorse the theological content of the participating seminaries.